Jim Elledge

IDENTIFYING THE DEAD

On June 23, 1973, someone set fire to the UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar in the French Quarter, killing
thirty-two individuals in sixteen minutes. It is considered the largest mass-killing of gay people in the U.S.
"Identifying the Dead" contains quotes from police reports, set off with single quotation marks.

 

Bodies #1, #3, #8 through #12, #13
            through #16, #22, #

            25, #27, and #30 through #32
            were a cinch.

            Others took time:
‘Body #2 had a white meta 

chain around its neck, with
            two doves

Body #4 wore blue pants with gray
            stripes, a blue button-

            up shirt,  black boots, purple
            socks, a white metal

            wedding band on the left ring
            finger, a brown leather

            change purse with two quarters
            and a $1 bill in the right

            front pants pocket
Body #5 also wore blue

            pants and a blue shirt, a white
            belt with a silver button,

            blue and tan shoes
            that had 2-inch heels, gray socks,

            and a white metal
            bracelet on its left hand

Body #6 wore a yellow metal ring
           on the left index finger

Body #7 wore black leather shoes, green
            socks, brown pants, a black

            belt with a large metal
            buckle with antique flowered

            designs, and a pink and white
            checked shirt

Body #13 wore a white metal neck
            chain with a religious medal

Body #17 wore a ring with the initial H
Body #19 wore a yellow wedding band

Body #20 wore a ring with the initials
            G.M. and a yellow neck chain

Body #21 wore a white chain
            and a religious medal

Body #24 had a Country Club Motel key
Body #26 wore a yellow wedding band

Body #28 had an address, that of Tina
            Terrell, 300 Ponce de Leon St., the word

            “Son,” and then the rest of an address,
            P.O. Box 417, Scottsdale, GA

Body #29 had a belt buckle with a silver dollar.’
They dug a pauper’s grave for the trio

who went unnamed:
‘Body #18, No. 173-6-284’

‘adult white male’
2-, 3-, and 4-degree burns

across 70% of his flesh
wore brown shoes

scraps of his pants fringed his legs
fingers wrinkled and charred

face swollen, red and black blotches
‘Body #23, No 173-6-285, police I.D. tag #1849’

slender, adult, white male,
3- and 4-degree burns

covered 90% of his skin
wore brown shoes and black socks

fingers melted away
and his face

‘Body #28, No. 173-6-286, police I.D. tag #1848’
male: adult, white

extensive 2-, 3-, and 4-degree burns
covered 60% of him

chest and face charred
‘and the feet also.’
 

  
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